The wind came roaring through the scrub and mesquite last night, picking up loose soil and sandblasting everything in its path. The temperature dropped suddenly and what was a pleasant fifty-degree night quickly turned into a dark, shivering ordeal as monkeys scrambled for their shelters.
On Saturday, January 18, a young spider monkey named Brodi was humanely killed in Ohio in order to send his head off for rabies testing, despite the fact that he had recently received a rabies vaccination. His crime was having bitten the thumb of an employee at a car dealership who reached into a vehicle (with permission) to pet the monkey. State law requires the testing to be performed when the animal involved is not domesticated and, unfortunately, there are currently no reliable alternatives to directly testing the brain for the disease. A very sad ending for a very young life, especially considering several accredited sanctuaries reached out to officials with the offer of quarantine and life-long care for him. Sad as it is, the reality is that his unnatural death was a mostly predictable conclusion to a very unnatural life.
As you likely know, the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary is home to more than 600 nonhuman primates ranging widely in age, size, and species which include macaques, baboons, and vervets. What you might not know about the Sanctuary is that it is also home to many other non-primate animals.
Happy New Year! It’s that time of year again: those first invigorating days of January, when we take stock of where we've come and where we're going—and make the plans to get us there. At the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, we’ve avowed some goals of our own and we look forward to accomplishing them all in 2014!
2013 is winding down, and time has sure flown by! This will be my last blog of the year, so I want to take the opportunity to look back on our Sanctuary’s 2013 highlights.
We don’t often get to spend much time with our fellow human primates since most of our days are spent caring for the animals at the Sanctuary; after all, we’re greatly outnumbered! But, this past Sunday, we teamed up with legendary rock band, REO Speedwagon, for a concert that raised money for our Sanctuary primates.
In many parts of the country, winter has already settled in for the season—but, at our Sanctuary in south Texas, it’s just now arriving. We had a few practice runs in November with some cold drizzle and near-freezing temps at night, and that gave the monkeys an opportunity to begin to acclimate to cooler weather. Now, with a major storm now bearing down on us, it’s safe to say that winter is officially here.
We face many challenges in life, from physical discomforts to emotional anguish to life-threatening diseases, to name just a few. We seem to spend an ever-increasing amount of time insulating ourselves from those experiences – and from the natural world we reside in. We worry ourselves sick with how to get ahead, avoid conflict or keep our egos intact. We over-medicate, under-appreciate and act as if the very environment which allows us to flourish exists for nothing more than our amusement and short-term gain. Within that context it's easy to understand how people can become isolated, distrustful and combative - and they are not alone: many animals, both wild and domestic, suffer unnaturally at our collective hands in a wide variety of ways and under many scenarios. Each day we're inundated with additional examples of our species' brutality towards other living beings and for animal (and people) lovers things can sometimes look very bleak.
Fortunately, we also have the capacity to demonstrate inspiring acts of compassion, empathy, grace, nurturing, and generosity. When I see Freeman amble across his enclosure to play with Buddy and Elvis, or watch Alice warm herself in the sun, or witness rhesus monkeys once used in research exploring their large, open enclosure for the first time, I am instantly reminded of all that's good about our species.
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